Posts Tagged ‘youth’

From a letter by Lyle Whitefish to the editor of the StarPhoenix, printed May 20, 2010.

Important work is underway to find governance solutions for FNUC and chart the future of the institution. Time is needed to develop, approve and implement a governance solution that will meet the requirements of all the stakeholders. In the meantime, the university must continue to educate students and, to accomplish this goal, the needed resources must reach the institution.

There are many reasons why the FNUC must continue to be a part of Saskatchewan’s educational fabric. If First Nations people are to play a significant role in Saskatchewan’s economic future, our robust young population needs to be educated and trained.

Read more in the StarPhoenix.

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The following is an unofficial and unedited transcript of a meeting of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. This document is being sent for information purposes only and may not be quoted, as it may contain transcription errors. The edited, translated transcript will be available on the Committee’s website (http://www2.parl.gc.ca/CommitteeBusiness/CommitteeHome.aspx?Cmte=AANO&Language=E&Mode=1&Parl=40&Ses=3) within the next two weeks.

Le président: Maintenant je voudrais inviter M. Del Anaquod qui est le chef des opérations à l’Université des Premières Nations du Canada.

Monsieur Anaquod, vous avez cinq minutes pour votre présentation.

Mr. Del Anaquod (Chief Operating Officer, First Nations University of Canada): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, members of the committee.

I’ll keep my comments under five minutes. First off, this opportunity to talk to you about the success of the First Nations University of Canada I welcome. One of the problems we’ve had is getting our story out there.

Previous speakers have talked passionately about some of our successes. As I sit here today, I want to highlight again a number of those. The decision of the federal and provincial governments to cut off funding to First Nations University on April 1, 2010, directly impacts 2,000 students, 350 classes, over 200 employees that include the most aboriginal PhDs in Canada, 3300 graduates, 70 research projects, and the largest concentration of indigenous programming in the world.

Throughout its history, tens of thousands of students and business leaders have taken classes and courses at First Nations University of Canada. The government’s decision has far more wide-reaching impacts beyond this. It affects all Canadians and Saskatchewan citizens.

Our success. I would like to briefly highlight the impact of First Nations University’s success, which is our alumni. As previous speakers mentioned this afternoon, this is a measure of our success. Our alumni includes doctors, nurses, health care providers, teachers, dental therapists, business leaders, engineers, scientists, social workers, and lawyers. We have produced hundreds of civil servants for the federal and provincial work forces and another thousand for first nations governance.

First Nations University is one of the most successful producers of first nations taxpayers in Saskatchewan. Our university draws students from across Canada who contribute to the Saskatchewan economy and to our reputation in Canada and abroad. Thousands of non-first nations students have completed our courses as requirements in academic programs including justice, police studies, women’s studies, education, and social work. First Nations University provides the most unique program in the world. We offer bicultural education so that our students are completely qualified for work in the mainstream and have the additional training they need to serve in our communities.

I want to briefly touch on some of the budgetary shortfalls and jurisdictional issues we have faced since our inception. The true measure of a great institution is not only its successes but the obstacles and adversities it has overcome. Throughout our 34-year history, First Nations University has faced ongoing budgetary shortfalls due to federal and provincial jurisdictional disputes, and this in turn created uncertainty and hardship. Each has a role to play, the province for its jurisdiction over universities and the federal government for its responsibilities for Indians and lands reserved for Indians and its treaty and aboriginal rights and constitutional obligation under section 35.

Some of the past actions that have happened we take responsibility for. First Nations University has experienced internal governance and management issues. For this we take full responsibility. However, we should not allow the decisions of a few to affect the success of many. The new interim board and leadership have addressed governance and management problems. To shut down an institution that has had so many success stories and provides for the future of so many, based on the negative actions of a few, is unthinkable and irresponsible. It has taken many, many people to build this institution over a 34-year period and only a few to potentially destroy it.

Governments have chosen to highlight the actions of these few and ignore the success of the majority.

A challenging future. As Saskatchewan and Canadian citizens, we are facing many challenges. One is our youth and the future of our great country. In Saskatchewan, we have over 60,000 aboriginal youth in the first nations and provincial K to 12 system. As I sit here today, one out of every three students in Saskatchewan is aboriginal and this number is continuously on the rise. We are also facing a 50% dropout rate. Thirty thousand aboriginal youth will drop out in the next 10 years. Where will they go? Will they join the 2,000 street gang members we now have in the province or is the answer jails? Over 80% of our provincial jails are made up of aboriginal people. That’s not the answer.

We have close to 5,000 children currently out of home care; 75% are aboriginal. We struggle to find aboriginal foster homes for these children. Within these marginalized and frustrated youth, we are sewing the seeds of homegrown problems. As a Canadian, this is a statistic that I am not proud of and a future I do not relish.

The Chair: We’re over time there now, Mr. Anaquod, if you could just wrap up.

Mr. Del Anaquod: What is the answer?

One of the answers is First Nations University of Canada.

The First Nations University is a bridge between two cultures. The Queen, on her visit to our university in 2005, laid the foundation of that bridge by presenting us with a stone from Balmoral Castle. Let us not tear down that bridge. Let us ensure stable, long-term funding so that, as our graduates in the past, successive aboriginal generations will become productive and contributing Canadians.

Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Anaquod.

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The following is an unofficial and unedited transcript of a meeting of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. This document is being sent for information purposes only and may not be quoted, as it may contain transcription errors. The edited, translated transcript will be available on the Committee’s website (http://www2.parl.gc.ca/CommitteeBusiness/CommitteeHome.aspx?Cmte=AANO&Language=E&Mode=1&Parl=40&Ses=3) within the next two weeks.

The Chair: Maintenant, le prochain député est M. Lemay.

Vous avez sept minutes.

M. Marc Lemay (Abitibi—Témiscamingue, BQ): Avant de commencer, surveillons si la traduction est bonne.

Ne commencez pas tout de suite.

On vous surveillera, parce que la traduction est importante, vous comprenez.

C’est important que vous compreniez, Grand chef et madame Myo, ce que j’ai à vous dire.

No, no. I’m going to go and appeal.

On ira tranquillement et on verra si vous avez la traduction.

Grand chef, ça va?

The Chair: Everyone can hear?

M. Marc Lemay: Premièrement, merci d’être là. Ce qui se passe ici aujourd’hui n’est pas un record, mais presque un record. Pourquoi? Tous les membres du comité sont extrêmement sensibles à votre demande. Pourquoi? En effet, la Chambre a repris ses travaux le 3 mars et dès le 4 mars, nous étions sensibilisés à ce qui se passait à l’Université des Premières Nations de Saskatchewan et dès le 10 mars et le 11 mars, vous avez fait des interventions que nous avons reprises ici, en comité. Et comme nous avions d’autres travaux, nous avons décidé de mettre certains travaux de côté pour pouvoir vous entendre d’urgence. Donc, vous devez considérer — et j’espère que vous le faites — que le comité prend réellement très au sérieux votre demande.

Pour nous, je le dis au nom du Bloc et mes collègues l’ont laissé savoir aussi, ce serait une catastrophe si on devait fermer cette Université des Premières Nations.

Une fois cela dit, je dois vous dire cependant que je ne sais pas comment cela se terminera parce qu’on n’a pas rencontré les autorités du ministère — on le fera dans quelques minutes —, mais vous avez couru après le trouble. Je m’excuse de le dire comme cela. Je n’ai pas besoin que vous repreniez, je sais tout, j’ai tout lu. En trois ans, honnêtement, j’ai trouvé les gouvernements bien patients parce que cela a pris trois ans avant que l’on dise que c’était assez.

Maintenant, il faut rétablir les ponts. J’ai une seule question, une seule, et j’aimerais que l’Université de Regina y réponde, ou peut-être le grand chef également. Quelles garanties pouvez-vous donner aux gouvernements, tant de la Saskatchewan que du Canada, que jamais plus, si les fonds étaient rétablis, si l’aide vous était apportée, qu’une telle chose ne se reproduira plus? C’est la seule question que j’ai, mais j’aimerais bien avoir une réponse.

Ms. Viane Timmons: Thank you very much for the question.

The University of Regina’s relationship with its federated college was clear. We were academically integrated, but they were independent administratively and governance-wise.

FSIN, with the leadership of Chief Lonechild, has said that they are now prepared to go into a shared management model with the University of Regina. That’s a huge step, and a huge concession on the chief’s part to say, “We will give up that autonomy.” And the University of Regina has a record of good, solid fiscal management. We can guarantee, as long as we’re in a shared management relationship with First Nations University, that we will continue the history of accountability, transparency, and openness in terms of fiscal management. We guarantee that.

M. Marc Lemay: Grand chef.

Chief Guy Lonechild: Thank you very much, member from the Bloc.

It’s important to know that we’ve been down this road before in the area of gaming. We’ve seen troubles at our institution. When we restructured, we did so in the best interest, of course, of employment, ensuring that we had governance issues in place. With that institution, we now win governance awards from the Conference Board of Canada.

Again, with the First Nations University of Canada, we are serious and sincere about ensuring we come out of this, making all the proper reorganizational efforts and restructuring efforts possible. And the depoliticization is the first step. But we look at best practices from around the country. And we’ll ensure that what we learn going forward with the partnership arrangement…we’re going to have a stronger institution long into the future.

M. Marc Lemay: Êtes-vous prêts, y-a-t-il une entente, y-a-t-il un contrat, y-a-t-il un document prêt à être signé entre l’Université de Regina et bien évidemment la First Nations University? Ce sera probablement Mme Myo qui répondra à cette question. Est-ce que ce genre de document sera respecté s’il était signé au cours des prochaines années?

Ms. Viane Timmons: I just received an email that all partners have signed a contract to do a shared management agreement: the provincial government, FSIN , FNU and University of Regina. They’ve all signed on to a shared management agreement with—

M. Marc Lemay: Est-ce que ce document est disponible? Est-ce que le comité pourra en avoir une copie lorsque tout le monde l’aura signé? Est-ce qu’il pourrait être rendu public pour que le comité en ait une copie? Même s’il est en anglais, on se chargera de le faire traduire.

Ms. Viane Timmons: Yes, we can get you that. It’s signed and ready to be presented to you today, yes.

M. Marc Lemay: Combien de temps me reste-t-il?

Le président: Une minute.

M. Marc Lemay: D’accord.

J’aimerais que Mme Myo, qui est conseillère spéciale du grand chef, complète ce qu’elle a commencé à dire tantôt.

Quelle est l’importance de cette université pour les étudiants autochtones?

Ms. Dorothy Myo: Thank you.

This university is important, of course, to our students, our young people and other learners because it preserves, protects and maintains our first nations languages, cultures and knowledge and that we have the ability, a structure in place, that will pass on and transfer this knowledge to our own people, but also to share with other non-first nations, aboriginal, non-aboriginal learners and students.

With that sharing, it creates, I think, understanding not only about who we are and about our histories, about our languages, but also from that understanding I think it creates dialogue and also a place where we can begin to work together for a better future for all people.

Le président: Merci, monsieur Lemay.

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The following is an unofficial and unedited transcript of a meeting of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. This document is being sent for information purposes only and may not be quoted, as it may contain transcription errors. The edited, translated transcript will be available on the Committee’s website (http://www2.parl.gc.ca/CommitteeBusiness/CommitteeHome.aspx?Cmte=AANO&Language=E&Mode=1&Parl=40&Ses=3) within the next two weeks.

Le président: Maintenant, nous procéderons aux questions des députés. Nous commençons avec M. Russell pour sept minutes.

Monsieur Russell.

Mr. Todd Russell (Labrador, Lib.): Thank you, Mr. Chair, and good afternoon to each of you and thank you for taking the time to come here to Ottawa, particularly on such short notice. I understand the urgency of this particular situation for each of you, and just as importantly of course, for the students and faculty, and all of those who are impacted by the federal government’s decision not to fund the First Nations University of Canada.

I have to say that in my almost five years at the committee, this is some of the most powerful testimony I’ve heard, and the most compelling arguments around a particular position. In this case, it’s to keep the First Nations University of Canada open. Over the last number of weeks and months, we have heard many, many different stories reported through many different types of media, whether it’s by radio or by newspaper or by television, about what is going on or not going on.

It is refreshing to see that you are bringing, I think, to light exactly what is happening, because when we ask questions in the House of Commons–I have to be quite frank with you–to the minister on this particular issue, Minister Chuck Strahl, all we get is the negatives. We have never heard of its successes. We have never heard about the uniqueness. We have never heard about the positive changes that are taking place.

There have been many calls by ourselves, many of my colleagues in the House of Commons, to restore the funding, and of course our leader, Michael Ignatieff, has added his voice to that as well.

You have laid out every criticism that’s been levelled against this institution. It seems to me that every criticism that’s been levelled against this institution by the Conservative government has been answered, so where do we go? When I asked the minister last Thursday if there was any scenario that he could see where funding would continue, he did not answer the question, but continued to raise doubts about the progress that has been made, about changes that you have undertaken; extraordinary changes, many of you have said, with FSIN and the leadership of Chief Lonechild, and I indeed I would say all of you at this particular table.

However I think it is important as well for us to enunciate that you have made the fundamental change in governance, in administration, in management, that everybody who was a critic has asked for. You have done your part. Now it’s up to the federal government to assure that this new model can succeed and, as many of you said, reward transparency and accountability, not penalize it.

There’s also been a perception that March 31 comes, April 1 comes, and the students can just move from one institution to another, that life will go on as usual, that somehow faculty will all find jobs, that somehow this unique university will not survive. I want to ask each of you–in a very short time frame, I know–to tell us what impact this will have upon the students and the faculty and FSIN.

The Chair: Just before you start with that, the way this works–and I’m just going to stop the time here temporarily–on a seven minute question, it’s the time for the question and the answer, so we can get more in if you keep your responses succinct and members keep their questions succinct also. I’m sure we’ll receive a number of questions from members. The more succinct we can keep it, the more we’ll get through. Okay?

With that, please carry on, Ms. Adams.

Mrs. Diane J. Adams: I think the most important thing to remember is that the students of this institution are people who chose to come to this institution.

When you’re entering into university, at whatever age you’re at, and I assure you that our demographics look much different than at the average university–most of our students are actually well into their thirties, and I would guess 80% of our student body are parents, many of them single parents–you have made a choice about your future. You have made a choice about your future career, and you are busy defining what the path of the rest of your life is going to be.

The threat of the closure of this institution has basically thrown a wrench into the hopes and dreams and plans for the future of every single student who is going to that university. For many students, there is not an option to go to a mainstream institution. First nations students have barriers to being successful in post-secondary education. For 34 years, the first nations people have been addressing how to address the barriers, and only we know how to do it.

With that, I suspect that many of our students will just exit post-secondary forever, and if not, they are going to have the future plans that they had trotted out over many years, and have overcome many hurdles to get to, just basically trampled on. Their futures are very uncertain and it’s very disheartening for the students at the university.

Mr. Randy Lundy: A follow-up?

Mr. Todd Russell: No, just go ahead, sir.

Mr. Randy Lundy: I just want to make clear that we are talking about whether the doors to the institution are open or not. From what I’ve heard from Minister Strahl, he’s not inclined to restore the $7.2 million in federal funding. He seems to want to fund students to go wherever they choose to go, as long as it’s not us because our doors won’t be open.

What that means is that 66 faculty members will be out of work, about a couple of hundred staff people will be out of work. So we’re looking at least 200 or 250 staff and faculty who will be on the unemployment line. I don’t think that’s necessarily a plank in Canada’s economic action plan, but that’s what we’re looking at. We’re going to be at least 200, 250 people unemployed.

More importantly than whether we find jobs or not elsewhere, as I was suggesting earlier in my comments, what’s important is that we have a gathering, a nexus of expertise here that will be dispersed, and it exists no where else in the country. If we don’t get that funding back in place, then all of that expertise is going to be dispersed and spread out thinly across the country. We’re going to lose a very important resource, a very important capacity that, as I said, it’s taken us 34 years to build.

Mr. Todd Russell: Thank you.

How much time, Mr. Chair?

The Chair: You only have 15 seconds. If someone had wanted to add just a very brief comment.

Ms. Dorothy Myo (Special Advisor to the Chief, Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations): Good afternoon, Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.

I think at the first nations community level, there is a going to be a huge loss in terms of having an institution that is there to transfer our indigenous knowledge to the next generation. That means our languages, our culture, our ceremonies, our practices will not have a mechanism how we will transfer it to both aboriginal students and non-aboriginal students.

The Chair: We’ll have to hold that thought there, and perhaps you’ll have an opportunity to continue with that comment further.

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The following is an unofficial and unedited transcript of a meeting of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. This document is being sent for information purposes only and may not be quoted, as it may contain transcription errors. The edited, translated transcript will be available on the Committee’s website (http://www2.parl.gc.ca/CommitteeBusiness/CommitteeHome.aspx?Cmte=AANO&Language=E&Mode=1&Parl=40&Ses=3) within the next two weeks.

The Chair: Next, we introduce and welcome, Diane Adams. Diane is a representative for First Nations University of Canada Student Association.

I will just at this point, for the benefit of all witnesses, as well, as a reminder, we do simultaneous translation through the course of your remarks. So the pace at which you speak, if it’s just even slightly slower than you normally talk, our interpreters will be able to keep up with the translation.

And I see you’ve got your listening devices all in check there, so that’s great.

Ms. Adams, please go ahead. Five minutes.

Mrs. Diane J. Adams (Representative, First Nations University of Canada Student Association): Hi, there.

My name is Diane Adams, and I am a Métis woman from Sioux Lookout, Ontario in the Treaty #3 Territory. And I am the president of the First Nations University of Canada Student Association in Regina.

Today I am sitting before you, representing the 2,000 students currently taking classes at the First Nations University of Canada. We currently have 400 classes going on at three campuses: one in Regina, one in Saskatoon, and our northern campus in Prince Albert.

My first and foremost objective today is to illuminate why it is imperative that the federal government commit sustained multi-year funding to the First Nations University and how important it is. We’re receiving $7.2 million and we can only build from there.

I’ve come here today to not only share my own experiences but also the accomplishments of our prominent and successful students and alumni. My own educational journey began at a mainstream institution but two years ago I picked up and moved to Regina to study environmental health and science at the First Nations University of Canada. This is the only place in Canada that I can obtain the specialized education I need to pursue a career as an environmental health specialist for first nations communities, developing innovative, culturally acceptable, and economically feasible solutions to the health problems associated with water, sewer, and housing infrastructure on reserves.

That is what the First Nations University is all about–innovation through bicultural educational. It is a place where knowledge is shared and students go forward with the best of both worlds. The sharing of knowledge is the most important thing to our students, so they can come out with dual skills sets; how to succeed in both mainstream society and with their own first nations traditions.

Last October the students were very pleased when the FSIN Chiefs and Assembly elected Guy Lonechild as their leader because he had actively campaigned to bring changes to the First Nations University, the same changes that the students had been calling for, for some time. When the FSIN dissolved the board and put our own respected academics in charge, we knew this was the beginning of a new era of accountable, transparent, and qualified governance and leadership at our institution.

So while this new era of change for the First Nations University is here, we cannot go forward without the commitment of the $7.2 million that our university had historically been receiving. We cannot go forward without that.

The First Nations University has taught many prominent first nations and non-first nations students over the years. Our students have gone on to be lawyers, doctors, politicians, nurses, managers, and social workers, just to name a few. One of our alumni, Alika Lafontaine, won the prestigious Canada’s next great prime minister contest and is now a medical doctor currently specializing in anaesthesiology. Connie Walker is an accomplished journalist working for CBC’s The National. We have a provincial deputy minister. And our alumnus, Perry Bellegarde, ran a campaign for national chief of the AFN last year.

Countless others have completed their graduate degrees and Ph.Ds. And in the past five years, our nursing program has graduated 71 nurses who are now working in their northern communities. And we have the only school of dental therapy in the country.

That is just a sample of the many reasons that committed, sustained multi-year funding must be immediately restored to the First Nations University of Canada.

As a student, I must point out that no other university in the country relies on or could operate on an annual proposal-based funding for its core operation. We could not attract or keep the quality of students I just mentioned on year-to-year funding. Degrees take four years to complete and all students know that.

I’d like to just close by reminding the committee that it is the educators at this university who are teaching a new generation of first nations leaders the value of accountable, transparent, and qualified governance in leadership. Tom Benjoe was a fellow student association member and last year he was named the Red Cross young humanitarian of the year and has received more than 30 regional, provincial, and national scholarships. He wanted me to relay this to you today, and I quote,

I strongly believe that change has come. As future first nations leaders we are proving how education is changing the landscape for our futures and we are demanding greater accountability and transparency both for our institutions and for our communities. The First Nations University is helping develop those changes and so it is only fitting that the change must begin there.

The First Nations University needs that sustained multi-year funding from the federal government. If this is not the case, the Canadian government is sending a strong message to the students of the First Nations University of Canada, to the next generation of young leaders that accountable and transparent conduct will not influence the government decision making when it comes to financial matters.

With that, I pray to this committee and the Canadian government to lead by example and give value to our commitment to accountability and transparency by reinstating a minimum of $7.2 million directed to the First Nations University of Canada.

Thank you.

Le président: Merci, madame Adams.

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March 27, 2010

Dear Prime Minister Harper and Minister Strahl:

I am writing to urgently request that you please reinstate funding to the First Nations University of Canada. This is an essential institution and its closure will have serious repercussions for generations to come, and for the future of Canada.

Canadians have an awareness of the many challenges that First Nations communities across this country face. Again and again, the public hears stories in the national media about the abhorrent living conditions in these communities — the lack of clean drinking water, housing shortages, substance abuse and the suicide epidemic amongst First Nations youth. Many people hear these stories and are at loss as how to begin to address these challenges. At this moment in history, many Canadians are looking to federal leadership to seek solutions to these problems.

One of the most fundamental ways of addressing some of these challenges is to provide Aboriginal people with access to postsecondary education. Only 3% of First Nations people in Canada have university degrees compared to 18% in the general population. First Nations University provides this vital access to education for many Aboriginal people, an opportunity they would not otherwise have. The closure of First Nations University will have immediate and dire consequences for the students who attend, but will also have more serious ramifications for generations to come.

It is absolutely crucial to keep the doors to the First Nations University open, as many Aboriginal people will not attend university at other institutions. Pursuing a postsecondary education can be a leap for anyone, but that leap is often greater for Aboriginal students who may be facing additional challenges. These students need an institution where they welcomed and their culture is celebrated. Many will simply not thrive in another university setting.

The National Aboriginal Achievement Awards, held last night in Saskatchewan, are a reminder to us all about the incredible contributions that Aboriginal Canadians have made to all aspects of our society and to the formation of Canada. Their continuing contributions are an essential part of our country’s future.

Please demonstrate your vision for the future of Canada and the next generation of Aboriginal people who have a contribution to make in this country. Show your commitment to those who will not have any other opportunity to a postsecondary education, and reinstate funding to First Nations University. Prove that your government is willing to be a part of the solution and not a part of the problem.


Danis Goulet

cc: Todd Russell, Federal Liberal Critic for Aboriginal Affairs
Jean Crowder, Federal NDP Critic for Aboriginal Peoples Affairs

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March 27 & 28th, 2010
Brandt Centre, Evraz Place
Regina, Saskatchewan

Download Poster Here

For more information, see the First Nations University web site.

As the first Pow Wow of the year, this much anticipated event is also considered one of the biggest Pow Wows in Saskatchewan, attracting more than 7,000 visitors and participants from across Canada and the United States. Since it first began in 1978, the pow wow has been held every year to celebrate cultural diversity, to unify families and communities, and to demonstrate First Nations traditions through a wide variety of song and dance styles.

The celebration of spring announces new life and gives thanks for sharing in the rebirth of the land. Our students initiated this event thirty years ago and are still a big part of the celebration as volunteers and head staff.

The proceeds from this year’s event goes toward establishing a second scholarship prize.

Building Community Spirit

With the help of over 150 volunteers, the First Nations University of Canada Pow Wow has become one of Regina’s largest spring tourist attractions. In strengthening community relations, all involvement from the Elders, the arts and crafts organizations, the corporate and non-profit organizations, the Regina Police Service, and local businesses contributes to the community spirit of this event.

While the First Nations University of Canada Pow Wow proves to be a powerful way to heighten awareness of First Nation culture with non-First Nations and other ethnic community groups, it also provides a tremendous amount of publicity not only for the First Nations University of Canada, but also for the city and the province.

Eagle Sponsor: Access Communications

Access Communications proudly presents a 3-hour broadcast of the pow wow on ACCESS TV, starting with the grand entry at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 27, 2010.

DVDs will be available. More information to be announced.

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From a letter by Gary Merasty in the StarPhoenix of March 25, 2010.

However, the value of this institution for both Saskatchewan and Canada is unquestionable. For more than 30 years, we have been the proud provincial host to the only indigenous university in Canada, an institution that has generated thousands of graduates — non-First Nation and First Nation — who’ve gone on to contribute to the economic growth of the province and country.

Establishing FNUC was not an easy process. It was created through the dedication and hard work of many First Nations and non-First Nations people who recognized that Saskatchewan long has been a place of indigenous innovation, creativity and achievement.

It’s my hope that government and leadership ultimately do not blindly walk away from this institution. That would be a monumental mistake.

Read the full letter in the StarPhoenix.

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The FNUniv Indigenous Education department is one of many valuable departments at First Nations University. Many of our graduates are teaching in schools not only in Regina, but in communities throughout Saskatchewan. A number of our students are currently placed in practicums with former graduates who are now teachers within the Regina school system. Graduates of our program are teaching in both elementary and secondary schools in Regina, including Balfour Collegiate, Thom Collegiate, École Connaught School, and at W. F. Ready Elementary School. Some of our graduates are now principals and administrators. A similar story prevails at our Northern Campus located in Prince Albert.

It is important for the public, and especially parents with school-aged children to realize that FNUniv-trained teachers may be found in any number of schools in Regina and area, and that children from any neighbourhood or culture may have one of our graduates as their teacher. Our teachers have and will continue to contribute significantly to the education of young people whatever their ancestry. In this respect, FNUniv is supporting the success of our children and youth, and our provincial economy which depends on an educated work force.

First Nations University has taken all the steps required to make it more open, transparent and accountable. If the federal government continues to withhold funding now that these changes have been made, it will, in effect, become an agent of complicity in bringing about the demise of FNUniv. The federal government has the opportunity now to reverse this tragic series of events by restoring full funding to FNUniv. This will go a long way to rebuilding positive relationships not only with First Nations across Canada, but all persons concerned about fairness and access to education.

Ben Schenstead
Assistant Professor, Department of Indigenous Education

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Please support and help us save First Nations University of Canada.

  1. Send this video to FOUR Friends
  2. Go to fnuniv.wordpress.com
  3. Print the letter of support and send it to your MP, Minister of Indian Affairs, and/or the Prime Minister.

The Four Friends video can also be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zc1xmmQlOY

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